BirdNote® – Birds of Paradise
Air Date: Week of December 2, 2011
A Greater Bird of Paradise Gets a Treat. (Photo: © Andrea Lawardi)
There are more than 40 species of Birds of Paradise on the Indonesian island New Guinea. As Mary McCann reports, many of the males have exotic plumage and go all out to attract a mate.
[MUSIC: BIRD NOTE® THEME]
GELLERMAN: Animals often go to great lengths to attract the opposite sex, but one of our very finest feathered friends offers a unique perspective on the mating game as BirdNote®'s Mary McCann reports.
[SOUNDS OF NEW GUINEA FOREST AND RAGGIANA BIRD OF PARADISE CROWING]
MCCANN: It is early morning on the island of New Guinea. The lowland forests erupt with the crowing calls of male Raggiana Birds of Paradise.
[SOUNDS OF RAGGIANA BIRD OF PARADISE, HIGH PITCHED, FAST CALLS]
MCCANN: Groups of male Raggiana Birds of Paradise perform elaborate displays to attract females. The size of small crows, the males have a yellow head, bright green throat, and a lush mass of fine, russet-orange plumes that hang well beyond their tails. In a sequence known as the “flower display,” the males hang upside down with their wings flexed downward, while flaunting those lustrous russet plumes upward.
[SOUNDS OF RAGGIANA BIRD OF PARADISE]
MCCANN: “Birds of Paradise”—an aptly exotic name for this most varied and extravagantly decorated group of birds. All forty-three species are found on New Guinea, or nearby. Picture one named the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, as it flies along the forest edge.
With an emerald-green head and velvety black body, the Astrapia trails two slender, white tail-plumes a full three feet behind its body. They undulate like fine ribbons in the breeze.
[SOUNDS OF RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA]
GELLERMAN: That’s Mary McCann of BirdNote®. To see some photos of Birds of Paradise, flap over to our website loe.org.
[MUSIC: Charlie Parker “Bird Of Paradise” from The Very Best Of The Dial Years (Stardust Records 2009).]
Calls of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Raggiana Bird of Paradise and Ribbon-tailed Astrapia recorded by Eleanor Brown.
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